Ask Big Worm

Dear Big Worm,Why do I end every ride, whether mountain or road, long or short, fast or slow, with chain grease on my calf? How does this happen? Is it a sign of virility?

Ahhhh, the infamous Cat. 5 tattoo. This has nothing to do with Juancho’s mysterious black cat, sited by the few and far between. The Cat 5 tattoo was so named before there was a Category 5 in road racing. At the time, the “beginner” level of racing was Category 4. So this Cat. 5 thing was supposed to imply that if you couldn’t keep the chainrings and chain away from your leg, you were somehow less skilled than a little kid with a tricycle and tassels.

As for how you end up with this mark after every ride, that’s a good question. How are you at keeping the rubber side down? I’ve found that my bike is much more efficient with the tires in a vertical position. Whenever attempting to ride your bike in a flat spin, or the prone position, I find that staying clear of a dirty chain is all but impossible. If you’re not sure if you are riding in a vertical manner, look for these tell tale signs: A definite sinking of the stomach, the impression that gravity is pulling from the wrong direction, a mild burning sensation in the extremities of one side of the body, all of this usually followed by a nasty lack of skin in the immediate vicinity of the burning sensation.

If the axis of your bike is not the problem, stop using your chain to scratch that poison ivy. You also might try not using a paintbrush to lube your chain. If none of these are the problem, may I suggest some knee length, black “fred ” socks. Those definitely won’t have the same stigma as a little grime on the calf, when you roll up to your next group ride.

BTW, make sure I get a phone call if you go the “sock” route. I can’t wait for that ride!

Why? ‘Cause BIGWORM says!

There you have it folks, quality answers to quality questions about cycling and life. E-mail your questions to


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